Everything that changes in Switzerland in September 2020

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Everything that changes in Switzerland in September 2020
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What changes are taking place in Switzerland in September of 2020?


Although there are few concrete changes set for September 2020, with a referendum scheduled, the month could be a consequential month for millions of residents. 

In addition, there are some other small changes to be considered from September onwards. 

September 27th referendum

Switzerland will go to the polls on September 27th to consider five separate initiatives. 

Of these, the two which have gained the most traction are the migration limitation initiative and the paternity leave initiative. 

The other three questions are on whether the army should be allowed to purchase new fighter jets, whether tax deductions should be increased for childcare and whether hunting should be restricted. 

Three of these - migration restriction, tax deduction and animal protection - were originally scheduled for May 17th but were postponed due to the pandemic. 

While the vote will be held on September 27th, the changes will not be made immediately - particularly if the migration initiative is successful as it will be subject to significant negotiation between the EU and the Swiss government. 

Click here for an overview of the referendum questions.

We have also prepared specific guides on the migration initiative and that on paternity leave. 

EXPLAINED: Switzerland's referendum to restrict EU migration

READ: Everything you need to know about Switzerland's paternity leave referendum 

Masks compulsory in Solothurn from September 3rd

Due to rising infection rates, the central Swiss canton of Solothurn has put in place a compulsory mask requirement. 

The central canton has become the ninth to put in place a compulsory mask requirement in shops. 

Authorities decided on August 28th that masks will be compulsory in shops from Thursday, September 3rd onwards. 

READ: Why did it take Switzerland so long to make masks compulsory?

As reported by the Solothurner Zeitung, authorities had been reluctant to put in place a mask requirement due to the canton’s location. 


Solothurn borders several other cantons, with authorities concerned the mask rule would encourage residents to go shopping across the border. 

In addition to Solothurn, eight other cantons have put in place compulsory mask requirements in shops: Zurich (from August 27th), Fribourg (August 28th), Valais (August 31st) and in Basel City, Geneva, Neuchâtel, Vaud and Jura.

Masks have been required on public transport in all Swiss cantons since July 6th.

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Masks compulsory at several institutions in Zurich

Masks will be compulsory in all buildings and interiors at the Zurich University for Applied Sciences (ZHAW) from September 1st

This includes publicly accessible areas, meeting rooms and classrooms. 



In addition to the ZHAW, the University of Zurich, Zurich Central Library, the ETH Zurich and the HSG are also introducing a mask requirement in their universities.

Mask flat rate for St Gallen residents on welfare

Welfare benefit recipients in the Swiss canton of St Gallen will only need to pay 30 francs for a year’s supply of coronavirus masks under a new plan.

The plan is designed to reduce the burden of purchasing masks on benefit recipients. 

Although masks are currently not required in shops and restaurants in St Gallen, they were made compulsory on July 6th across the country. 

Pursuant to the plan, supplementary benefit recipients will only pay 30 francs per year as a ‘flat rate’. 

READ: Everything you need to know about Switzerland's new compulsory mask requirement 

While no concrete indication has been given as to how the masks should be provided, the St. Gallen Conference on Social Welfare recommends that municipalities reimburse the costs of the masks to each benefit recipient, or provide masks directly to those receiving social assistance. 

The flat rate comes into effect on September 1st, 2020. 

The government estimates that the plan will cost approximately 270,000 francs per year. 


Large events from October 1st

While the change will technically take place on Thursday, October 1st, event organisers and venues will have September to prepare their ‘protection concepts’ in order to allow events with more than 1,000 people to take place again. 

From concerts to sporting events in stadiums, the Swiss government has again allowed large events. 

And while sporting fixtures narrowly avoided an alcohol ban, things are likely to look pretty different than they did before the pandemic. 

READ: Here's how large events will look in Switzerland from October 2020 

Large events can again take place in Switzerland from October 1st. Image: AFP

Paying fines with a QR code in Lucerne 

From September 1st, 2020, fines issued by police in the canton of Lucerne can be paid via a QR code

This includes parking fines, along with financial penalties for driving too fast or throwing rubbish on the floor. 

Before September 1st, these were still handwritten by police or recorded on a decades-old device. 

The system in Lucerne mirrors that already in place in Zurich, St Gallen and Basel City. 

Zurich introduced QR codes for fines in May. Despite some teething problems, police say the move has saved them considerable amounts of time. 


What else could change? 

Perhaps the only thing that’s been consistent about the pandemic in Switzerland is change. 

The main change is likely to be rules surrounding masks and hygiene if infection rates continue to climb. 

At the start of August, only three cantons had compulsory mask requirements - a number that rose to nine by the end of the month

Stay tuned to The Local Switzerland for an update on everything that changes as it happens. 



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